Have A Smarter Energy Infrastructure? Better Get Smarter Security, Too.

Posted on Mar 22, 2016
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In the energy sector, innovative digital technology is opening many doors; but those doors, far too often, aren’t locked.  

They need to be. We know that malicious actors including hackers and criminal organizations are now capable of remotely hijacking IP-accessible, digitally-managed utility infrastructures. We know this not in the abstract, but as a hard fact. Because it’s happened. Recently. 

Late in the workday last December 23rd, hackers seized control over eight different utility providers in the Ukraine, resulting in some eighty thousand people losing power for several hours. The attackers also sabotaged various operator machines to delay restoration of service, disabled monitoring stations, and managed to take down the telephone help-desk group through a form of denial-of-service.  

All of this came via rather ordinary hacks, executed without the apparent intention to wreak maximum havoc.

What’s the lesson?  As energy-sector facilities like power grids get smarter — acquiring new capabilities and hitting new levels of efficiency with innovations such as policy-driven, digital management platforms — they unfortunately also become more vulnerable to cyber attacks.  

As the attacks get more sophisticated and diverse — and we can be sure they will — their impact stands an appallingly high chance of escalating across communities, business sectors and service types.

Securing the Power Grid is a Top US Priority

That’s why protecting the increasingly intelligent power grids of the US infrastructure is a major priority of our federal government. In particular, I’d cite the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, which developed the Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems program to fortify access to and control over key management capabilities. This program has several goals, hoping to:

  • Build a culture of security
  • Assess and monitor risk
  • Develop and implement measures to reduce risk
  • Manage incidents effectively
  • Sustain security improvements

All are laudable goals…and familiar to most organizations today that similarly face a growing array of security threats from multiple vectors.  Minimizing the odds of a breach — and mitigating the impact if one occurs — requires a deep understanding of the relevant technologies, business processes, potential exploits, known vulnerabilities and best practices. It’s a heady mix, to say the least.

It gets headier still when you consider the way government regulations have been developed, and continue to be developed, to drive better outcomes through enhanced, smarter and more secure management of information and services on a national scale.  

Navigating Privacy Regulations and Compliance is a Top Priority 

Navigating and implementing privacy regulations and compliance isn’t an easy task for most businesses. But thanks to our extensive history of successful customer engagements and strong alliances with solution providers, it is for us.

We conduct a risk assessment to identify your weak spots and pinpoint where your threats are coming from. We perform a labor-intensive, elaborately detailed analysis of your system. We recommend best practices such as multi-factor authentication and strict access controls to ensure safe interactions with your systems. Additionally, we deploy integrated, best-in-class technologies to create a multi-layer barrier around your information that provides real visibility and defense in depth, while addressing any guidelines the auditors can throw at you. Find out if a risk assessment will help you